The Saab 9000 was built on a shared Saab/Fiat platform that was also used in the 1984-1998 Lancia Thema, Saab 9000, Fiat Croma, and Alfa Romeo 164. This next example of the Saab/Fiat Type 4 platform features an unbeatable combo for a sub $1k car — executive class luxury, front drive safety, and Giorgetto Giugiaro styling. Tow it home, fix it stock, or start pushing up power with the easy to modify Saab B-series 4-cylinder. Find this 1996 Saab 9000 CSE offered for $600 in Castle Rock, OR via craigslist. Tip from Zach.
In an earlier post today, I wrote; Anybody who tells you that you need to spend a bunch of money to drive a nice classic car is full of it. But some of you felt that the N600 is just a bit too pedestrian, too slow, and not going to be fun, fast, or exciting to drive. Okay. I know what you want. You want something, a little more…Italian, but for the same low price. Ok, I’ve got something in mind. Find this 1973 Fiat 850 Sport Spider offered for $6990 in Orange County, CA via craigslist.
It is hard to understand how small a vintage Fiat 500 (Cinquecento!) is unless you see one in person. They are 116.9 inches in length, which is 3 inches shorter than the wheelbase of a Stellantis Chrysler 300 sedan. Haha, Stellantis. Anyway, at 1100 lbs curb weight, the vintage Fiat 500 is a zippy little city car, but if you want something fun with an Abarth badge, this is the way to do it. Find this 1971 Fiat 500 Abarth offered for $18,900 in Miami, FL via ebay.
Exclusivity isn’t everything, but sometimes you need a car that can hang with the fancy $50k+ crowd of ’50s Vettes, ’60s Benz SL Coupes, Big Healeys, Porsche 356, and Shelby Cobras…at least in the parking lot. This next thing might not be able to keep up with anything faster than a Beetle on the highway, but it exudes a sense of charm and stateliness of the best European sports cars from the 1960s…and it just looks like it costs a lot more than $20k. A lot more. Find this 1962 Fiat 1200 VT Spider offered for $22,000 in Deerfield Beach, FL via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!
Fiat first used the name 124 Spider on a little convertible sports car that was built from 1966 through 1985. Styling was by Dutch descended, but Detroit born Tom Tjaarda who spent most of his career with Ghia and Pininfarina. However, in 2015 the world was re-introduced to a newborn Fiat 124 with design by Virgilio Fernandez that pays homage to the original 124, but uses Mazda MX-5 ND underpinnings. Italian styling, Japanese reliability — what could go wrong? Unfortunately for Fiat, the Mazda version (MX-5 ND) is prettier, faster, sportier, and more fun to drive (that last bit is according to one famous beefsteak wielding automotive journalist.) The only thing the Fiat 124 has as an advantage is that it depreciates faster. Find this 2017 Fiat 124 Spider offered for $16,990 in Aliso Viejo, CA via craigslist.
The Fiat 850 was available as a boxy van, an oddly bulbous sedan, and a cute little spider ragtop, but that best looking version had a fastback roofline and was called the 850 Coupe. They were manufactured in huge quantities (2.3 million 850s were sold worldwide from 1963-1973) but isn’t a car you’ll see very often — probably because of the sheet metal disintegrated in moisture like single layer cardboard and the engines needed to run at 100% duty cycle to keep the driver from being rear-ended by children on skateboards. Despite that, I think I’d enjoy the experience of owning a classic like an 850 Coupe. Find this 1966 Fiat 850 Coupe offered for $9,000 in Scotch Plains, NJ via craigslist.
If you thought Chris Bangle’s deconstructivist flame surfacing styling was tacky on early millennial BMWs, just remember that he was destroying the design language of Fiat in the early 1990s. Actually, the Fiat Coupe (or Coupé, if you prefer) had styling that was a welcome departure from the boxy and boring Fiats of the 1980s and it is quite striking in person or in print, particularly compared to some of the monstrosities that roam the streets today. The Coupe was never imported into the USA as a new car, so you’ll have to find a grey market import like this next one. Find this 1994 Fiat Coupé offered for $14000 in Dallas, TX via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!
Turbochargers seem to be installed on half the cars in the showrooms these days, but there was a time when a turbo was a rare thing to find in a car. In fact, in 1981 there were only a few cars with the snail shaped glowing/spinning things under the hood and they were mostly American cars like the Monte Carlo, Trans Am, and Buick Grand National…but if you did some research you could find a little company on the East Coast called Legend Industries that would turbocharge your Fiat Spider for a few bones. Years later those kits are hard to maintain and parts are scarce, so many have been de-turbo’d but could be restored to their original boosted glory. Find this 1982 Fiat 124 Spider Turbo Not Turbo’d offered for $7500 in Medway, MA via craigslist. Tip from Cory.
If you are looking for a car that has the styling of a 3/4 scale VW Thing, the convenience of a canvas top, and power from an OG Fiat 500…there is only one answer. The Fiat 500 Minimaxi by Moretti. Sure, the name is a mouthful, but this car has the chops to hang with a Citroën Méhari or Mini Moke…and that is saying something. Find this 1977 Fiat 500 Minimaxi by Moretti offered for $13,700 buy-it-now or make-offer located in Miami, FL.
When you think of classic affordable roadsters, you’ll first think of the ubiquitous Mazda MX-5 Miata…but it is far too new and common, I’m talking about cars like the MGB, Alfa-Romeo Spider, Datsun Fairlady/Sports 1600…but there’s another option in this genre that is often overlooked, still fairly plentiful, and worth consideration as a respectable alternative […]